Introduction

2015 was a year which marked many firsts for the IHRA

 

 

Together the IHRA’s 31 member countries succeeded in changing the EU draft legislation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) thereby safeguarding the future of Holocaust research for generations to come. This marks one of the biggest successes in the history of the organization and underlines the need for an intergovernmental organization with a mandate to focus on Holocaust research, remembrance and education. No other organization could have acted on an international platform to overcome the dangers the GDPR posed to Holocaust research.

2015 was also a year which saw the IHRA’s first academic publication on the topic of killing sites, the IHRA’s first professional development seminar, the first annotated bibliography of material on the genocide of the Roma published since 1989, and the first appointment of a Vatican liaison person for IHRA issues.

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IHRA also continued to grow in size and in geographical reach. In 2015 we welcomed Albania, Australia, El Salvador, Moldova and Monaco as observer countries

I take this opportunity to thank the IHRA Troika and my IHRA colleagues for their support in all our endeavors over the last year. I know that you all believe, as I do, that the Holocaust is an issue of contemporary importance and one which must remain firmly on the political agenda.

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Szabolcs Takács
IHRA Chair 2015

Timeline

  1. January 2015

    IHRA's Social Media guidelines are published, outlining considerations and practices in deploying social media in the Holocaust educational environment. The guidelines were developed by the IHRA’s Education and Communication Working Groups and demonstrate IHRA’s awareness of the changing landscape of education. They were downloaded 167 times in 2015.

    January, 2015
  2. Image: OCSE

    January 21, 2015

    UK IHRA Chair Sir Andrew Burns addresses the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna on the topic of Holocaust Memorial Days. The IHRA is dedicated to combating antisemitism and Holocaust denial, which in turn helps to further peace and security in contemporary societies, bringing the OSCE and IHRA mandates into alignment. Read more here.

    January 21, 2015
  3. Image: Steven Katz with Rony Smolar (Jewish Community of Helsinki) at the memorial for Jewish refugees deported from Finland in November 1942, Helsinki.

    January 25, 2015

    An IHRA delegation including Advisor to the IHRA, Professor Steven Katz, and IHRA Executive Secretary, Dr. Kathrin Meyer, participate in a program on Holocaust education and remembrance organized by the Finnish National Board of Education and the Finnish delegation to the IHRA in Helsinki from 25 to 28 January. Read the full report on the visit here.

    January 25, 2015
  4. Image: Memory Road Initiative, Lithuania. Tomas Kavaliauskas.

    January 27, 2015

    International Holocaust Remembrance Day is commemorated worldwide in memory of the victims of the Holocaust. In 2015 IHRA collated an overview of hundreds of events taking place in IHRA member and observer countries on 27 January. IHRA member countries also reaffirm the Stockholm Declaration 15 years after the original Stockholm Forum, underlining the fact that the IHRA’s work is as crucial as ever. See where the reaffirmation was shared, tweeted and read here.

    January 27, 2015
  5. March 9, 2015

    Hungary assumes the IHRA Chairmanship from the United Kingdom. The outgoing Chair, Sir Andrew Burns, hands over to Szabolcs Takács. The handover ceremony, attended by the diplomatic corps, takes place at the Hungarian Embassy in Berlin. Read more here.

    March 9, 2015
  6. Image: The Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation

    March, 2015

    Within the framework of IHRA’s Grant Programme, the Funding Review Committee recommends 18 projects for funding in 2015. The Yehuda Bauer Grant for outstanding projects is awarded to the Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation for their project “Latin American Network for Genocide and Mass Atrocities”. In 2014 the Latin American Network trained 48 officials from 18 countries who went on to become ambassadors for genocide prevention in their home countries.

    March, 2015
  7. April 14, 2015

    The Committee on Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial and the IHRA Permanent Office approaches Microsoft regarding the auto-correction of the word ‘antisemitism’. Following the correspondence, Microsoft agrees to modify its auto-correct feature to accept ‘antisemitism’ as a legitimate spelling. Read the Committee’s memo here.

    April 14, 2015
  8. April 22, 2015

    The Hungarian Embassy in London organizes a panel discussion in the House of Lords to mark the handover of the IHRA Chairmanship from the UK to Hungary. The IHRA Chair, outlines Hungary’s Chairmanship priorities: combating antisemitism, promoting Holocaust education and remembering the genocide of the Roma.

    April 22, 2015
  9. Image: Participants at the international seminar 'Educating about the Roma and Sinti genocide - Learning from the past to challenge present discrimination and promote equality'. Karl Gabor

    April 23, 2015

    The IHRA Chair speaks at the international seminar entitled “Educating about the Roma and Sinti Genocide – Learning from the past for challenging discrimination and promoting equality” organized by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) in cooperation with the Swedish governmental agency the Living History Forum and the Swedish Equality Ombudsman in Stockholm.

    April 23, 2015
  10. May 12, 2015

    The IHRA Chair speaks at the 5th Global Forum on Combatting Antisemitism in Jerusalem, Israel. Read more here.

    May 12, 2015
  11. May 19, 2015

    The IHRA Chair Szabolcs Takács and Executive Secretary Kathrin Meyer hold talks with Head of the Latvian EU Presidency, Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs on the EU’s draft General Data Protection Regulation in Brussels.

    May 19, 2015
  12. May 27–28, 2015

    The IHRA Chair carries out an outreach visit to Kiev, Ukraine. In the year 2000 then-Prime Minister Victor Yuschenko attended the Stockholm Forum. Ukraine was heavily affected by the Holocaust and is not yet affiliated with the IHRA. The IHRA hopes to welcome Ukraine as an observer country in the near future.

    May 27–28, 2015
  13. May, 2015

    In IHRA’s new brochure to mark the 15th anniversary of the Stockholm Declaration, countries note that IHRA membership has influenced policy-making, fostered closer relationships between governments and NGOs, helped educators share resources and best practices, and has supported the development and renovation of new memorials and remembrance sites. 4,000 copies of the brochure were distributed to IHRA member and observer countries in 2015.

    May, 2015
  14. Image: Pava Street Synagogue, Budapest.

    June 8–11, 2015

    245 delegates attend the IHRA Budapest Plenary to discuss Holocaust-related issues, including the EU draft General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). A historic walk of the Jewish quarter of Budapest is organized by the Zachor Foundation, a reception is held at the Pava Street Holocaust Memorial Centre, and a concert is organized together with the President of Mazsihisz and the Chief Rabbi of Budapest. The keynote speech was delivered by Mr. János Lázár, Minister leading the Prime Minister’s Office.

    June 8–11, 2015
  15. June 23, 2015

    The IHRA Chair Szabolcs Takács and Executive Secretary Kathrin Meyer hold meetings with First Vice President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans and Gaston Stronck, Director for International Economic Relations and European Affairs, representing the Luxembourg Presidency, on the EU’s draft GDPR in Luxembourg.

    June 23, 2015
  16. July 7, 2015

    The IHRA Chair holds a briefing on the EU’s draft GDPR in Brussels for the Permanent Representatives and Ambassadors to the EU of IHRA member countries and IHRA observer countries, Bulgaria and Portugal, as well as other stakeholders from various EU institutions. 24 of the IHRA member countries are also EU member countries. The IHRA Chair required their support to secure an amendment to the GDPR. Read more.

    July 7, 2015
  17. Image: hirado.hu

    August 2, 2015

    The IHRA Chair speaks at the commemoration event organized by the Roma Civic Association (RPT) at the 'Roma Historical, Cultural, Educational and Holocaust Centre' in Hungary, and at the opening of the exhibition entitled “Pharrajimos-The Roma Genocide- A hushed-up tragedy“ organized by the Federation to Maintain Jewish Culture in Hungary on the occasion of the remembrance day for the genocide of the Roma. Read more here.

    August 2, 2015
  18. Image: IHRA delegates discuss the contemporary refugee crisis at the IHRA Plenary meetings in Debrecen, Hungary.

    September 9, 2015

    The IHRA Working Group and Committee Chairs and Honorary Chairman issue statements on the refugee crisis. The Chairs “call upon leaders to draw appropriate lessons from the past so that we may affirm the principles of the Stockholm Declaration to strengthen the moral commitment of our peoples, and the political commitment of our governments, to ensure that future generations can understand the causes of the Holocaust and reflect upon its consequences.” Read the full Working Group and Committee Chair statement here and the Honorary Chairman statement here.

    September 9, 2015
  19. September 10, 2015

    Denmark, Latvia, Norway, Romania, and Switzerland submit their IHRA country reports. In December 2010, the IHRA established a system for regular periodic reporting by IHRA member countries on their activities related to implementation of the Stockholm Declaration. The reports give member countries an opportunity to assess challenges and opportunities. 2015 saw the first opportunity for IHRA experts to provide feedback on the country reports. Read the available reports here.

    September 10, 2015
  20. September 24–26, 2015

    The IHRA Professional Development Outreach group succeeds in carrying out a professional development seminar in Moldova together with the Ministry of Education. The 44 educators who attended reported that they gained new knowledge tailored to the local context. Through the seminar, the international IHRA team directly advanced Holocaust education in an underserved community. Read more here.

    September 24–26, 2015
  21. Image: European Commission

    October 1, 2015

    The IHRA Chair Szabolcs Takács attends the European Commission Annual Colloquium on Fundamental Rights entitled "A fundamental rights based approach to tackling antisemitic and anti-Muslim hatred in Europe: specificities, commonalities and responses” with Frans Timmermans First Vice President and Vera Jourova Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality. The focus of the Colloquium was on projects, policies and legislation designed to combat hate crime, hate speech and discrimination. Read more here.

    October 1, 2015
  22. October 19, 2015

    The conference 'Holocaust in the Nordic Countries – Research, Education, Remembrance' takes place from 19-20 October at the Danish Institute for International Studies. The IHRA Chair and the IHRA Executive Secretary Kathrin Meyer are both in attendance. Read more here.

    October 19, 2015
  23. October 24, 2015

    The IHRA Committee on the Genocide of the Roma presents a unique overview of international organizations working on historical and contemporary issues connected to the genocide of the Roma and an annotated bibliography on the genocide of the Roma, with more than 1400 titles- the first to be published since 1989. The broad international scope of the project and the focus on an under-researched area of the Holocaust both fulfill key elements of the IHRA’s mandate.

    October 24, 2015
  24. Image: The IHRA Chair addresses the Plenary in Debrecen, Hungary.

    November 2–5, 2015

    The second IHRA Plenary takes place in Debrecen, Hungary. The IHRA welcomes over 200 attendees who meet to discuss topics from archival access to the current refugee crisis. A commemoration plaque to footballer Sándor Schwartz is unveiled followed by a concert organized together with the President of the Jewish community and the mayor of Debrecen, the film “Son of Saul” is screened followed by a panel discussion and the dance performance of the Hungarian State Folk Ensemble takes place.

    November 2–5, 2015
  25. Image: Mark Weitzman, Chair of the IHRA Committee on Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial.

    November 6, 2015

    The IHRA holds a conference entitled “The Holocaust in Public Discourse. Use and Abuse”. The conference was organized with the support of the Hungarian Chairmanship. Mark Weitzman, Chair of IHRA’s Committee on Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial, commented: “This conference is the first to focus on the Holocaust in public discourse examining how the Holocaust is used and mis-used in multiple platforms.“ View the conference panels on our Youtube channel.

    November 6, 2015
  26. Image: Roundtable participants read the plaque at the Holocaust memorial on the Danube in Budapest, Hungary.

    December 2–3, 2015

    The IHRA holds a roundtable in Budapest on challenges and opportunities related to preparing Holocaust Memorial Days, for representatives of three of IHRA’s observer countries (Albania, Bulgaria, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.) The roundtable presented representatives with practical examples to take back to their home countries and resulted in strong networking between IHRA observer countries with a view to regional cooperation. Read more here.

    December 2–3, 2015

Statistics

Decisions and Highlights

  • Highlight

    “The inclusion of a specific reference to the Holocaust in the General Data Protection Regulation prevents the GDPR from becoming an excuse to restrict access to the crucial record of the Holocaust. We look forward to continuing our work with EU and IHRA member state governments to build the structures and regulations necessary to live up to the tenets of the Stockholm Declaration and to ensure the permanence of open access to Holocaust sources.”

    ROBERT WILLIAMS, US DELEGATION TO THE IHRA
  • Decision

    “The Plenary decided to approve the proposal for an IHRA Conference on the connection between the murder of people with disabilities and the Holocaust.” – 11 JUNE, BUDAPEST

    The conference will be organized by IHRA’s Academic Working Group and is scheduled to take place in 2017.

  • Highlight

    “The professional development seminar which took place in the Republic of Moldova was certainly a key event in 2015. It was a pilot project carried out in an IHRA observer country which benefited local teachers and-in the end- students.”

    ANDREEA MOCANU, ROMANIAN DELEGATION TO THE IHRA
  • Highlight

    “The discussion that was held during the Debrecen Plenary on the topic of refugees was one of the highlights of the year because the IHRA, an organization devoted to upholding the Stockholm Declaration, is also seeking to make meaningful connections between the Holocaust and current events. The IHRA has knowledge to offer and offering that knowledge stresses the importance of the IHRA in the world today.”

    NIELS WEITKAMP, DUTCH DELEGATION TO THE IHRA
  • Decision

    “The Plenary decided to approve the proposal for the publication ‘Bystanders, Rescuers or Perpetrators? The Neutral Countries and the Shoah’ to be published as volume two of the IHRA publication series.”– 11 JUNE, BUDAPEST

    The volume was published in March 2016. Read more here.

  • Highlight

    "Thanks to the diligent work of the 2015 Hungarian Chair, Szabolcs Takács, and Hungarian diplomacy generally, and with the devoted efforts of the IHRA team, the European data protection language now includes a specific reference to the Holocaust- the archival sources for which should be open to research and scholarship."

    PROFESSOR YEHUDA BAUER, IHRA HONORARY CHAIRMANImage: Professor Yehuda Bauer speaks at the GAAMAC conference in Costa Rica. Juan Carlos Ulate
  • Highlight

    “In 2015 IHRA contributed to the decision of the town of Székesfehérvár to abandon plans to build a statue of Balint Hóman. This event was so key, that President Barack Obama mentioned it in his address on 27 January 2016. IHRA was central to circulating information about the proposal to erect the statue and to sending messages - including through the IHRA Chair - to object to the plans. It was through IHRA, and the depth of feeling expressed by a number of IHRA delegations, that the issue of the statue became a priority and the authorities were convinced to reconsider.”

    MICHAEL NEWMAN, UK DELEGATION TO THE IHRA
  • Decision

    “The Plenary decided to approve the proposal from IHRA’s Committee on the Holocaust, Genocide and Crimes against Humanity to carry out a research project to identify programs offered by universities, government and non-government institutions in both IHRA and non-IHRA countries which take a comparative approach to the Holocaust, genocide and crimes against humanity.”– 11 JUNE, BUDAPEST

    The results of the research project will be presented to the IHRA Plenary in May 2016.

  • Highlight

    “The adoption of the EU General Data Protection Regulation and the insertion of a specific reference to the Holocaust is an IHRA success in the long run. The implementation phase which starts in 2016 is something that requires our continuous preoccupation.”

    MIHNEA CONSTANTINESCU, 2016 IHRA CHAIR
  • Highlight

    “For the Committee on the Holocaust, Genocide and Crimes against Humanity, the highlight of 2015 was having the Plenary approve the survey to gather information on organizations and research that take a comparative approach to the Holocaust. This survey will form the necessary foundation for this newly formed IHRA committee which aims to stimulate the sharing of expertise on a comparative approach to Holocaust education, remembrance and research, and to elaborate on the role the IHRA can play in genocide prevention.”

    VEERLE VANDEN DAELEN, BELGIAN DELEGATION TO THE IHRA
  • Decision

    “The Plenary decided to conduct an independent external evaluation.”– 11 JUNE, BUDAPEST

    The IHRA evaluation aims to take stock of the achievements and challenges facing the organization and will be completed in 2017.

  • Highlight

    “In the years since I began taking care of the IHRA budget, the number of external projects we fund has steadily increased. In terms of IHRA projects, we can really see how far the organization has come: 2015 saw IHRA running nine internal projects, demonstrating the ever more content-focused nature of the organization.”

    KATARINA KRISTENSSON, BUDGET COMMITTEE CHAIR
  • Decision

    “The Plenary tasked the Chair to contact the political representatives responsible for the preservation of the former Rabbi Tsirilson Synagogue and Magen David Yeshiva in Moldova.”– 5 NOVEMBER, DEBRECEN

    The Chair approached a number of ministries in Moldova as well as sending the IHRA statement on the issue to the Prime Minister of Moldova.

  • Highlight

    “In 2015, the Memorials and Museums Working Group engaged with endangered historical and memorial sites related to the Holocaust, of broad relevance to Europe and to the international community. Focused presentations and discussions on Staro Sajmište, Lety u Písku and the Vilnius Ghetto Library contributed to information-sharing and expert-led analysis, underscoring the importance of marking such sites, ensuring their preservation, and preventing their misuse.”

    NINA KRIEGER, CANADIAN DELEGATION TO THE IHRA
  • Decision

    “The Plenary decided to endorse the proposal by Switzerland to hold the Chair of the IHRA in 2017.”– 5 NOVEMBER, DEBRECEN

  • Highlight

    “Switzerland will follow Romania as chairing nation of the IHRA in 2017 and it will be an honor for me to serve as IHRA Chair. As you all know, the IHRA community offers an invaluable opportunity to generate and strengthen a shared commitment against antisemitism, ethnic cleansing, genocide, racism and xenophobia.”

    2017 IHRA CHAIR, AMBASSADOR BENNO BAETTIG
  • Decision

    “The Plenary decided to extend Professor Steven Katz’s appointment as Advisor to the IHRA by a further two years until the winter Plenary of 2017.”– 5 NOVEMBER, DEBRECEN

  • Highlight

    “I joined the IHRA in 2003. Luxembourg was then and still is the smallest member country, but I hope I was able to help further the IHRA’s mission. I have learned a lot from all the delegates, be they diplomats or academics, teachers or museum representatives. IHRA was a great school for me. Looking back, I see that IHRA has changed a lot, not always for the better I dare say, but the life of such an “Alliance” which brings together diplomats and experts is not easy. Some of my numerous colleagues have become real friends and I regret that I will no longer see them at meetings in the future.”

    PAUL DOSTERT, HEAD OF THE LUXEMBOURGISH DELEGATION TO THE IHRA FROM 2003 UNTIL 2015
  • Decision

    “The Plenary decided to grant observer status to Australia and Monaco.”– 5 NOVEMBER, DEBRECEN

  • Highlight

    “For me and the Committee on the Genocide of the Roma, the highlight of 2015 was the completion of the annotated bibliography of material related to the genocide of the Roma and the overview of international organizations dealing with Roma issues. The international nature of the IHRA and the contacts to the IHRA’s seven permanent partner organizations made this important contribution to the field possible. Both documents will serve as a crucial foundation for those actively working to explore this under-researched topic.”

    KAREN POLAK, DUTCH DELEGATION TO THE IHRA
  • Decision

    “The Plenary decided to approve the conference on the use of Holocaust related imagery and language in public discourse.”– 11 JUNE, BUDAPEST

    The conference took place in Budapest on 6 November 2015. Read more here.

  • Highlight

    “The Holocaust Memorial Day roundtable in Budapest was the perfect opportunity to encourage IHRA observer countries to reflect on how their national commemorations are planned. We have already received positive feedback from participants of the roundtable. In both Skopje and Tirana on 27 January 2016, the MFA encouraged young people to play an active role in commemorating the history of the Holocaust, implementing what they had learned during the IHRA workshop.”

    RICHELLE BUDD-CAPLAN, ISRAELI DELEGATION TO THE IHRA
  • Decision

    “The Plenary decided to propose the following amendment to the EU General Data Protection Regulation: “Nothing in this Regulation affects the full and open access to documents bearing on the Holocaust” and to task the IHRA Chair and Troika to approach all appropriate levels within the EU system in this regard.”– 11 JUNE, BUDAPEST

    Recital 125b of the GDPR now reads: “Member States should also be authorized to provide that personal data may be further processed for archiving purposes, for example with a view to providing specific information related to the political behavior under former totalitarian state regimes, genocide, crimes against humanity, in particular the Holocaust, or war crimes.”

  • Highlight

    “IHRA’s effort to facilitate a dialogue between experts from different countries on Holocaust education is proving to be very fruitful. The role of international exchange is crucial: it creates a much needed synthesis, especially in a time when witnesses and survivors are leaving us, and we find ourselves looking for new guidelines to promote remembrance and increase impact.”

    SIMONETTA DELLA SETA, ITALIAN DELEGATION TO THE IHRA

In Memoriam

In October 2015, UK delegate Professor David Cesarani passed away.

“My colleagues and I on the UK delegation were shocked and deeply saddened at the death of Professor David Cesarani. David was one of the world’s most distinguished professors on this topic, whose pioneering and authoritative work has helped shape our understanding of the Holocaust. With his passing we have lost one of the world’s leading thinkers and writers on the Second World War and its aftermath.”

SIR ERIC PICKLES AND THE UK DELEGATION TO THE IHRAImage: David Cesarani at the IHRA Plenary in London 2014.

Coming up

2016

2016

An international database containing individuals and organizations working on the topic of killing sites to be launched in April 2016

MAY 2016

The Committee on the Holocaust, Genocide and Crimes against Humanity to present the results of its research project to identify programs offered by universities, government and non-government institutions in both IHRA and non-IHRA countries which take a comparative approach to the Holocaust, genocide and crimes against humanity

NOV 7-10, 2016

Second Plenary under the Romanian Chairmanship to be held in Iasi from 7-10 November 2016

MAR 2016

Publication of ‘Bystanders, Rescuers or Perpetrators? The Neutral Countries and the Shoah’, Metropol Verlag

MAY 23-26, 2016

First Plenary under the Romanian Chairmanship to be held in Bucharest from 23-26 May 2016.

SEP 2016

Professional development training in El Salvador for multipliers and government officials on the topic of Holocaust Memorial Days

2016

Planned conference on the topic of refugees in cooperation with the Holy See

2017

2017

IHRA conference on the connection between the murder of people with disabilities and the Holocaust planned

2017

New IHRA website to be launched

2017

Publication of the results of the Multi-Year Work Plan on Education Research project as the third volume in the IHRA publication series

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